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Finding Aid for the Reuben W. Borough papers, ca. 1880-1973
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Reuben W. Borough papers
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1880-1973
    Collection number: 927
    Creator: Borough, Reuben W., 1883-1970
    Extent: 98 boxes (approximately 49 linear ft.)
    Abstract: Reuben W. Borough (1883-1970) was active in the Populist movement in Los Angeles in the early 20th century. He was a newspaper reporter for the Los Angeles Record, worked on Upton Sinclair's EPIC (End Poverty in California) gubernatorial campaign, and served as a councilmember of the Municipal League of Los Angeles and as a board member of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works. He was a key organizer of the recall campaign that ousted Los Angeles Mayor Frank Shaw and elected Mayor Fletcher Bowron on a reform platform in 1938. He was a founding member of the Independent Progressive Party, and a life-long progressive proponent for labor, civil and political rights, peace, and the public ownership of power. The collection includes correspondence, manuscripts of articles and speeches, research materials, clippings, periodicals and photographs.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UC Regents. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    • Reuben W. Borough, 1966.
    • Julius and Florence Kogan, 1987.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Jessica Frances Thomas in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Megan Hahn Fraser and Yasmin Damshenas, June 2011.
    The processing of this collection was generously supported by Arcadia   funds.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Reuben W. Borough papers (Collection 927). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 4230402 


    Reuben W. Borough (RWB) (1883-1970) was a Progressive activist born in Sylvania, Ohio, who grew up in Marshall, Michigan, the son of a buggy manufacturer. He was childhood friends with the poet Carl Sandburg and the pulp novelist H. Bedford-Jones. He married Laura Bradley, a newspaper reporter, in 1910 and the couple moved to Los Angeles in 1912.
    One of Borough's earliest jobs in the city was as a motion-picture singer in a downtown movie theater, but he soon forged a career in journalism. He was a major reporter for the now-defunct Los Angeles Record, where he published the popular "Back-to-the-Land" columns, advocating for urban farming and gardening, and municipally-owned power.
    In 1931 he assisted social reformer Judge Ben Lindsey with the writing of his biography, The Dangerous Life.
    In 1933 he joined Upton Sinclair's EPIC (End Poverty in California) campaign for governor, and was editor of EPIC News until 1935.
    From 1936 to 1939, Borough served as associate secretary of the Los Angeles Municipal League, and was associate editor of the Municipal League of Los Angeles Bulletin. During this time, Borough was active in building the Federation for Civic Betterment, the political coalition responsible for first mayoral recall campaign in the history of the United States, ousting Los Angeles Mayor Frank Shaw and campaigning for Mayor Fletcher Bowron on a reform platform.
    He later served on the Los Angeles Board of Public Works (1939-45), and was active in the labor movements of the time, following stories on labor strikes and the growth of local co-operatives, such as Llano del Rio.
    Borough's wife Laura died in 1943. He later married Madeleine Ruthven, a screenwriter and poet.
    In 1946, Borough ran as a Democratic candidate for the 20th Congressional District. He was an active member in the Hollywood Independent Citizens Committee of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions (HICCASP), precipitating his later disapproval of the Committee for Un-American Activities and the Smith Act, spiritually and politically aligning with the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles and the Reverend Stephen Fritchman.
    In 1952 Borough became the Independent Progressive Party candidate for the U.S. Senate, and campaigned with Charlotta Bass, the first African-American woman in United States history to be nominated as a Vice Presidential candidate.
    While Borough slowly retired from the role of professional politician, he remained an activist and writer for the rest of his life, particularly in relation to issues surrounding the public ownership of power and early peace movements.
    In 1960, he began working full-time on his autobiography, Jubilant Crusader, chronicling how his early life experiences in Michigan lead to a life-long involvement with Progressivism.
    Borough died on September 24, 1970.

    Scope and Content

    The collection includes personal letters and photographs, clippings, periodicals, broadsides, campaign materials, posters, photographs and slides. Subjects covered include 20th century Los Angeles politics, Socialist and Progressive activism in the United States, labor issues, citizens rights (in particular, the Smith Act), the ownership of public power, atomic power, and early Californian co-operatives dating from 1883 to 1970.
    Series 1, Correspondence (boxes 1-16) consists of letters, especially to and from Borough's first wife Laura Bradley, as well as communications with publishers and family letters.
    Series 2, Autobiography and article drafts (boxes 17-34) contains drafts of Borough's autobiography, Jubilant Crusader; Judge Ben Lindsey's biography, The Dangerous Life; and other article drafts. Also includes lists of manuscripts rejected by publishers, clippings and correspondence regarding topics such as royalties.
    Borough's Subject Files are found in Series 3 (boxes 35-75 and 96-98). These materials are related to grassroots socialism and politics in Los Angeles and California, including his work on the Los Angeles Record, his editorship at the EPIC News, and his political involvement, campaigns and activism, and include notes, clippings, typescripts, campaign literature, speeches and publications.
    Series 4, Laura Bradley Borough papers (boxes 76-77) contains clippings, letters, an account book, class notes and other writings. A high school classmate of Borough's, Laura moved to Los Angeles by herself in 1901 to pursue her dream of being a reporter. She worked as a society reporter for papers in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Pasadena. She died in 1943.
    Newspaper and periodical collections and published writings are found in Series 5 (boxes 78-86, 93 and 95). Issues of The New Masses, The American Socialist, The Municipal League of Los Angeles Bulletin, E.P.I.C., The Challenge, and the Los Angeles Record are included.
    Series 6, Scrapbooks (boxes 87-92) contains scrapbooks that feature mostly clippings and publications. Also included is a scrapbook commemorating Borough's 80th birthday.
    Slides and photographs (box 94) are found in Series 7.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Correspondence
    2. Autobiography and article drafts
    3. Subject files
    4. Laura Bradley Borough correspondence and writings
    5. Newspaper and periodical collections and published writing
    6. Scrapbooks
    7. Photographs and slides

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Borough, Reuben W., 1883-1970--Archives.
    Borough, Reuben W., 1883-1970 --Correspondence.
    Socialists--United States--Archival resources.
    Socialism--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources.
    Political activists--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources.
    Journalists--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources.

    Genres and Forms of Material

    manuscripts for publication.

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